4LbfcGlNIA JANUARY 201 OUR DOLLARS m ■: A! ragfe m >%ffl m ffKSK VV#--. r. . + m j. ■■ ■ it?, .»- . Bob Duncan Executive Director Back in the fall, a Rich- mond newspaper fea- tured a distinguished speaker who addressed a group of high school students on the subject of ethics. He began by explain- ing the honor code at VMI, his alma mater, and then asked the students for their definition of ethics. Two of the answers struck a chord with me. One student replied that ethics is "what your grandmother would approve of," and another opined that ethics "was what you did when no one was watch- ing." I think we can all relate to these in- sights. And they bring to mind two other quotes worth sharing. The first, by Aldo Leopold in his Sand County Almanac, re- minds us that, "A peculiar virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his con- duct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience." The second is described in his very spe- cial book, Beyond Fair Chase, by Jim Pose- witz. The author offers the following defi- nition of an ethical hunter: "a person who knows and respects the animals hunted, follows the law, and behaves in a way that will satisfy what society expects of him or her as a hunter." Posewitz reminds us that wild animals belong to all people, and that public perception of how hunters care for and about wildlife is critical to the future of hunting. Fast-forward to the present and a re- cent report on the future of hunting and shooting sports. According to Responsive Management and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 78% of Americans approve of hunting and believe it is im- portant for the state fish and wildlife agencies to provide op- portunities for recreational hunting. Yet we know that only five percent of the popula- tion (estimated at 14 to 18 mil- lion) currently participates in hunting each year. It is therefore essential that sportsmen and women conduct them- selves in a manner acceptable to the major- ity of the population who choose not to hunt. This is a theme emphasized in our Hunter Education Program and a theme often heard, in many different venues. An annual event supported by the Loudoun County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League's outdoor ethics committee in co- operation with our Department recognizes citizens and law enforcement personnel in this regard. The October 2009 meeting marked the 20th anniversary of a program devoted solely to promoting outdoor ethics that, at the same time, has fostered tremendous cooperation among the vari- ous agencies involved in wildlife law en- forcement — including the prosecution of violators. I applaud all community efforts that promote ethical conduct and I truly believe it imperative that hunters embrace ethical behavior in pursuit of their cherished pas- times. As the number of hunters declines to a smaller percentage of the overall popu- lation, I'd wager the future of hunting will be directly tied to our ability to do so. Mission Statement To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources VOLUME 71 NUMBER 1 HUNTING & FISHING LICENSE FEES Subsidized this publication Secretary of Natural Resources L. Preston Bryant, Jr. Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Bob Duncan Executive Director Members of the Board Ward Burton, Halifax Brent Clarke, Fairfax Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan William T. Greer, Jr., Norfolk James W. Hazel, Oakton Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria John W. Montgomery, Jr., Sandston Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington Richard E. Railey, Courtlarid F Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot Charles S. Yates, Cleveland Magazine Staff Sally Mills, Editor Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, Contributing Editors Emily Pels, Art Director Carol Kushlak, Production Manager Color separations and printing by Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published monthly by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders and address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477, Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other com- munications concerning this publication to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rates are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.00 per each back issue, subject to availability. Out-of- country rate is $24.95 for one year and must be paid in U.S. funds. No refunds for amounts less than $5.00. To subscribe, call toll-free (800) 710-9369. POSTMASTER: Please send all address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P.O. Box 7477, Red Oak, low; 51591-0477. Postage for periodicals paid Richmond, Virginia and additional entry offi< Copyright 2010 by the Virginia Department Game and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall afford to all persons an equal access to Department programs and facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sex, 01 age. If you believe that you have been discriminat- ed against in any program, activity or facility, please write to: Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010 West Broad Street.) P. O. Box 11104, Richmoi Virginia 23230-1104. :: "This publication is intended for general infoi tional purposes only and every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy. The information con- tained herein does not serve as a legal representa- tion of fish and wildlife laws or regulations. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries does not assume responsibility for any change in dates, regulations, or information that may after publication." FSC Mixed Sources ige in JA About the cover: It may be cold and the fishing may be slow, but spring is just around the corner! Time to sharpen hooks, re-spool line, stock the tackle box, and maybe catch a Fish Expo to whet your appetite for the upcoming sea- son. Photo ©Bill Lindner y mr Magazine ibscriptions For subscriptions, circulation problems and address changes call: 1-800-710-9369 12 issues for $12.95 24 issues for $23.95 Hunting the Night Shift by David Hart As the last shades of daylight fade, foxes and other predators move into action. Hitting the Mark by Bruce Ingram Building team spirit, self-esteem, and new skills: An archery program for students offers it all. /-» m m ' V 1 X 'V - iT^^BVi^. '.SB i '■■* *^H i. 1 *w J f *il I ■■ Mi J r*s-Wi ^c ^i! Winter Deep Dropping Attracts Hearty Souls by Ken Perrotte Looking to escape the winter doldrums? Here's one solution. Shooting with a Woman by Clarke C Jones Here's a classic example of "be careful what you wish for." Be Wild! Live Wild! Grow Wild! by Cristina Santiestevan Virginia's Changing Coasts Kids Catching Fishing Fever by Gail Brown Everything's jumping, including the fish, in Red Oak this particular day. Off the Leash A Duck Hunter's Jounal Journal Dining In Photo Tips Looking for an exciting and challenging hunt? Try your hand at predators. by David Hart With the click of a button, Chris Carden sends an eerie scream across a Prince Edward County pasture. A full moon lights the field as Carden, his brother Vince, and I stand in the shad- ow of a towering cedar tree. A shot- gun is braced in my arms, Vince rests a .223 rifle on a monopod, and Chris sweeps the field's edge with a soft red spotlight. The quivering scream could be mistaken for a hungry in- fant, but it's the recorded sound of a wounded rabbit trailing from an elec- tronic caller. To a fox, a bobcat or a coyote, it's the sound of a free meal. We expect to see the glow of eyes from a curious predator coming to the squeals of the call at any time, but after 20 minutes we decide to try an- other spot. It fails to produce and so does the next one. At each stop, Car- den scans his red beam along field edges and down logging roads that wind through planted pines as his caller emits a series of chilling cries. First, a wounded rabbit. Then Car- den tries a woodpecker in distress. When that doesn't work, he clicks on the mournful howl of a coyote. We are in perfect predator habitat, we agree, but on this night the foxes, coy- otes, and bobcats just don't want to show themselves. We call it quits after midnight. "That's the way it is sometimes. I've had nights where nothing came in and then I've gone back a few nights later and called in several," says Carden, a business owner from Chesterfield. "A few years ago me and my brother called in five grays, two reds, and a coyote in one night in Prince George County. I've had many nights like that and I've had plenty of nights where I didn't see anything." The Perfect Game? Carden used to hunt deer, but family and work obligations made daytime outings difficult, and he gave up hunting completely until a friend took him on a nighttime fox hunt in 1998. "I realized I could hunt while my family slept and I could still get things done in the daytime," he says. He's not alone. As hunters seek new challenges and more opportuni- ties to stay in the woods, they are in- the northern and western Piedmont, while grays favor the thick cover found in the pine plantations and big woods of southern and southeastern Virginia. Coyotes, most common in southwest Virginia, are scattered throughout the state. Bobcats are more abundant in the rural counties of the southwestern and south-cen- tral regions. Wherever they live, they all respond to the various sounds of prey in distress and will sneak, trot, or charge in to investigate — if every- thing goes right. After Dark Although hunters in the western United States have pretty good suc- cess calling predators in broad day- light, the chances of pulling in a fox, bobcat, or coyote in Virginia during the daytime are slim. Carden and Travis typically start their nighttime adventures as soon as the last shades of daylight fade from the western sky. That's when foxes and other preda- tors begin the nightly search for their next meal. the Night Shift creasingly turning to four-legged hunters. Predator hunting is one of the fastest growing segments of hunt- ing in Virginia and it's certainly one of the most thrilling. Try it and it's easy to see why. "I like the challenge of trying to call in a predator," says Thomas Travis, a police officer from Farm- ville. "When you see those eyes glowing in the spotlight and they are coming toward you, it really gets your heart racing." He was also introduced to preda- tor hunting by a friend. They called in a bobcat on his first attempt back in 2001, but the animal stayed out of shooting range. That was enough to turn Travis into a hardcore predator hunter and, although he still hunts other game, he'd rather chase preda- tors than anything else. At least one of Virginia's three pri- mary predators — foxes, bobcats, and coyotes — can be found in every county in the state. Many counties have all three. Red foxes are most abundant in the rolling farmland of JANUARY 2010 Although possible to call in predators in the morning and evening, many dedicated hunters pursue their guarry at night. It's dark, of course (the darker the better, says Carden), so a good light is essential. Travis and Carden use high- powered rechargeable spotlights with red lens covers made specifically for predator hunting. The red is invis- ible to the color-blind animals, and approaching predators have no idea they are being watched. Their eyes, however, will give away their loca- tion as they reflect the light. Carden keeps his light on all the time and is constantly sweeping field edges and trails with the colored beam. When he sees the glowing eyes of a predator, he keeps the center of the beam just above the animal while his partner gets W ready to shoot. He learned long ago that working a light, a call, and a gun at the same time can be just about impossible, so he prefers hunting with a partner. Be- sides, it's a lot more fun to share the thrill of a successful hunt with a friend. Two hunters can also cover a lot more ground if one carries a rifle while the other totes a shotgun. (Be sure to check county regulations for firearms restrictions.) "I carry a .223 or a .17 Remington in case we get one to come in that won't come close enough for a shot- gun," explains Car- den. "My partner carries a 12-gauge loaded with Number 4 shot, which is good out to about 50 yards." Travis prefers to hunt just with shotguns because the areas he hunts are often thick and shots are close. He also fa- vors shotguns because they force him to let the predator get close enough to fully identify it, some- 's, thing that's not always easy to do at night, j even with a bright spotlight. Both men have called in dogs, cats, and even deer. Mostly, however, Travis calls in exactly what he hopes to call: lots of foxes, a few bobcats, and three coyotes so far. I Predator hunting is one of the fastest growing segments of hunting in Virginia and it's certainly one of the most thrilling. All In The Call To bring in those predators, Carden uses a digital electronic caller capable of playing dozens of sounds, ranging from a wounded cottontail rabbit and a woodpecker in distress to coy- ote howls and fox pups in distress. A digital caller can cost several hun- dred dollars, and although they are only about the size of a coffee can, they can be a burden to carry, which is one reason both men rely on a hand-held mouth call most of the time. "I like the digital caller because it has so many different sounds and it can be a lot louder, which is impor- tant if it's windy," Carden says, "but probably about seventy percent of all the predators I've called came to a mouth call." Travis prefers a hand-held mouth call, as much for the price as the con- venience. A decent call can cost under $20 and it never loses a charge. Hang it around your neck when you hunt and it's always there, he adds. Both men start by calling softly for about 30 seconds to a minute. They then wait a few minutes, scanning their surroundings with a light, and then repeat the sequence several times over the course of 15 or 20 min- utes. They increase the volume of their call slightly with each new se- ries. If the wounded rabbit sequence doesn't work, Carden will switch to one of a half-dozen other sounds pro- grammed into his digital caller. Before he makes the first stand, Carden scouts the land during the daytime to find the best places to call and the easiest ways to get in and out of the hunting area. When they hunt, he and Travis pay close attention to the wind and make sure they keep their scent from blowing toward the direction they expect to see some- thing. Nothing matters more than wind direction, and a coyote that catches human scent will vanish in an instant. So will red foxes. Carden says bobcats seem to be less concerned VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com about human scent, and gray foxes, well, they can sometimes act like they don't have a nose. "Gray foxes will come charging in without any concern about wind di- rection. The first one I shot at was on a dead run at ten yards and another came within five or six feet," says Travis, who admits he missed both. "Reds will often stop just out of range and sit down and watch for 20 min- utes or more. Sometimes they'll come in or just turn around and leave. Bob- cats can take their time, as well." That's why Carden will wait up to 45 minutes before he picks up and moves. Normally, however, he'll give each spot no more than 20 minutes. If a predator is in the neighborhood and is interested in the call, it will usually show up right away. He likes to try as many spots as he can, and depending on the cover and terrain, Carden will move at least 200 yards before he tries another calling se- quence. He'll travel less distance on windy evenings, but he says his success rates are far lower when the wind is blowing. A little breeze does not discourage him from hunting, though. Carden just likes to be out on those cold, dark nights. He may not always call in a fox or a bobcat or a coyote, but sooner or later, the glow of eyes re- flecting in his spotlight will remind him why predator hunting is so fun and exciting. □ David Hart is a full-time freelance writer and photographer from Rice. He is a regular contrib- utor to numerous national hunting and fishing magazines. The thick cover typical of Virginia pine plantations is often prime habitat for foxes and bobcats. It's difficult to hunt, but can be extremely productive. 1 Kids in over 300 Virginia schools are hearing "Bull's-eye!" thanks to NASP. by Bruce Ingram [f\ T\\ he time is 7:30, Monday morning at the Northside c =1 Middle School gym in Roanoke County. Twenty-four stu- dents in grades six through eight have arrived to engage in an extracurricu- lar activity with their coach, Bob Shel- ton, a physical education teacher at the school. But these young people aren't there to improve their jump shots or running times. Instead, they are working on their archery skills as part of the National Archery in the Schools Program (N ASP). "There are so many good things about NASP," Shelton tells me. "One of the kids who joined had been listed as an 'at risk' child, but now he has a reason to come to school and feel a part of things. NASP is also a great way to stimulate a young person's in- terest in the outdoors. "At the beginning of the program, of our 24 kids only three of them were bowhunters. Now, seven or eight have bought their own bows and have caught the bowhunting fever. But one of the best things, and also most pleasurable for me, is that these young people are just excited to be here, improving their archery skills." Karen Holson, who supervises the outdoor education program for the Department (DGIF) and serves as the state NASP coordinator, maintains that such turnarounds are not un- common because of student partici- pation in NASP. "There is a grandmother in New- port News who has a wonderful story about her grandson and how he never participated or enjoyed sports in the past but really enjoyed archery. He even asked for a bow for Christ- mas and now shoots every day after school," she says. Soon, the satisfying sound of "thwack" is heard throughout the gym as the young folks release ar- rows toward targets at distances of 10 and 15 meters. Five stations exist and each student shoots five arrows before the next quintet arrives to do the same. e 'rip Reviewing safety procedures, Coach Bob Shelton prepares his NASP team for practice. Shelton relates that the National Wild Turkey Federation is a sponsor of NASP and, through the DGIF edu- cation program, Northside Middle School has been assigned 12 bows, five targets and arrow-resistant net- ting, among other things. Communi- ty support also has developed: A local archery club, Sherwood Archers, gives students discount memberships, and eight or nine stu- dents joined early on. Such support around the state is common, adds Holson. JANUARY 2010 National Archery in the Schools Starting Up NASP is designed for students in grades four through twelve and its core content includes archery history, safety, tech- nique, equipment, mental concentration, and self-improvement. Prospective school teachers must undergo an 8-hour instruc- tor certification program referred to as BAI, "Basic Archery Instructor." DGIF out- door education staff and certified volun- teers conduct the training program. Benefits Karen Holson relates that NASP positively influences student attendance, behavior, self-esteem, confidence, and on-task be- haviors. For more information: Karen.Holson@dgif.virginia.gov | 804-367-6355. Statewide Participation Kentucky was the first state to incorporate NASP into its schools, in 2002; Virginia got on board in 2006. DGIF staff and vol- unteers have trained 797 teachers in over 300 schools, and the agency has provided and assigned NASP equipment sets to over 200 schools across the commonwealth. For more information: www.dgif.virginia.gov/events/virginia -nasp-tournament/. Statewide Tournament After a "virtual" tournament in 2008, the Department held its first statewide tour- nament (that is, with teams competing in the same location) on February 28, 2009 at the Augusta Expoland in Fishersville, in conjunction with the Western Virginia Sport Show. Teams of 16 to 24 students competed in either Elementary (Grades 4-6), Middle (Grades 7-8), or High School (Grades 9-12) Divisions. Winning teams and indi- viduals were eligible to compete in the na- tional tournament in Kentucky this past May. For more information on the Western Virginia Sport Show: www.westernvasportshow.com To see a video of this event: www.HuntFishVA.com Coach Bob Shelton of Northside Middle School tutors Jordan Calloway on proper shooting stance. "We have many other donors and contributors that make this program work," she emphasizes. "The DGIF and my volunteer instructors put in many hours for the Virginia NASP!" Shelton says that the fervor of his students has even influenced him. "I hadn't bowhunted in about 10 years until I started coaching these kids," says the Botetourt County resi- dent. "Now because of their passion, I've started back. Sitting in a tree- stand on an October afternoon after school is a great way to enjoy the fall." Shelton's program has been so successful that, in 2008, the Roanoke County school won first place in the middle school division. Eighth-grad- er Will Echols captured the individ- ual award for middle school stu- dents. "Our team winning was really ex- citing," Echols tells me. "Last year was the first time I had ever shot a bow, and I got really into it. I practice a lot at home, and hopefully I can start bowhunting one day." Seventh-grader Anna Hensley re- lates that an incident in phys. ed. class piqued her interest. In fact, a lot of my kids weren't par- ticipating in anything extracurricular until NASP came along. It gives them a place where they feel com- fortable and a part of things. " "One day we were shooting and Coach Shelton tells me that I would probably be really good at archery and suggested that I come out for the team," she says. "A lot of my friends also said that archery was really fun, and they were right. My dad bowhunts, and maybe I can start going with him." Three days later, I am in the gym at Hidden Valley High School, anoth- er Roanoke County training site for budding archers, on a Thursday af- ternoon. Teacher Lisa Sink-Morris has just given her "pre-game" pep talk, this one about the importance of peep sights remaining in a fixed loca- tion. Then, employing the same whistle that she does for her phys. ed. class, Sink-Morris sounds off. The students commence shooting. Sink-Morris, who the students af- fectionately call Coach Mo, has been target shooting for some 25 years and credits her mother for introducing her to the pastime. All in all, some 35 students participate in her NASP team program. "I have the school eccentrics," laughs Coach Mo. "That is, the ones that aren't interested in playing ball sports or in various club activities. In fact, a lot of my kids weren't partici- pating in anything extracurricular until NASP came along. It gives them a place where they feel comfortable and a part of things." Later, freshman Wayne Veldsman comes up to Sink-Morris and proud- ly shows her a "Robin Hood" — that is, two arrows that were shot in the same place on a target, so much so that one arrow's point has buried it- self in another arrow's nock. In 2008, her team finished second in the high school division for Vir- ginia's NASP. But the group's biggest claim to fame was testifying before some 35 members of Congress about the benefits of NASP and why it should continue to receive govern- ment funding. Senior McKenzie Vie, who has been on the Hidden Valley team for three years, marvels at that experience. "It was very interesting testifying before Congress," he tells me. "I had expected those Congressmen to know a little something about archery, but they didn't. So we had to carefully explain to them about the benefits of NASP and archery. "I found it very difficult trying to teach adults something new. But things must have worked out be- cause Congress did renew the pro- gram." I next approach senior Hannah Kocher. "This is the only club I've been a member of my whole time in high school," she says. "I really enjoy com- ing to the gym to shoot." And that's reason enough for Vir- ginians to be proud that our state is an active participant in NASP. □ Bruce Ingram has authored many guide books, most recently Fly and Spin Fishing for River | Smallmouths ($19.25). Contact him at _ firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. ~*> JANUARY 2010 © Above: Coach Shelton assists student in scoring the arrows he has shot. Below: Coach Lisa Sink-Morris gives shooting instruction to senior Hannah Kocher who says that NASP has been the only program she has participated in during her high school years. Attic Chris Boyce exults over a trophy citation-sized sea bass that took his deep drop jig bait. / story and photos by Ken Perrotte n 11 r. Ken Neill III tugged at the drawstrings of the [ hooded sweatshirt he wore under his black and or- JfcJ ange survival suit as he nudged his 34-foot Albe- marle sportfishing boat eastward toward the rising sun. Neill studied the information his depth finder was providing as it scoured the ragged, rugged bottom of the Atlantic Ocean some 600 feet below us. His fishing crew stood at the stern, their warm breath leaving vapor trails in the chilly morning air. VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com Hearty S "Okay, let 'em down here," he an- nounced. Spool releases clicked on five fish- ing reels, freeing 12- to 20-ounce weights to the forces of gravity. Anything could be waiting on the distant, dark sea bottom near the edge of the famed Norfolk Canyon some 55 miles out from Rudee Inlet in the heart of Virginia Beach. The bet- ting was tilefish, but snowy grouper, plump black sea bass, or numerous other denizens could slam the offer- ing of cut bluefish. Newport News resident Wes Blow quickly hooked up with a hefty blueline tilefish, one that would qual- ify for a Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament trophy citation. The morning's fishing began in comparatively shallow water near the wreckage of the cargo steamer, Chenango, torpedoed by a German U- Boat in 1942. Virginia Beach residents Ric Burnley and Chris Boyce quickly got on the black sea bass carpeting the bottom 125 feet below the boat. The fish bit aggressively at the color- ful deepwater jigs and cut bait offer- ings drifting through their domain. Ric Burnley prepares to toss o "wreck anchor" on one of the shallower setups of a winter deep drop fishing trip. The wreck anchor is crafted from rebar which can be often bent to and freed when it gets hung up in the structure below. Below left: A bluefish, caught with a big-eyed, blue deep dropping jig, comes to the surface. Photo by Ken Neill III Most trolling fleets of sportfishing boats that routinely venture to the Gulf Stream in warmer months seek- ing tuna, dolphin, and marlin stay docked in the winter. Still, anglers willing to suit up for winter action can warm their spirits by trolling or fishing baits such as live eels for jumbo striped bass inshore and ven- turing offshore to "deep drop" for bottom hugging, structure loving fish. "The popularity of deep dropping has grown beyond anyone's expecta- tion," Neill said. "It is amazing — the number of boats, even big headboats, willing to run that far to bottom fish." Neill, a Yorktown dentist who aptly named his boat Healthy Grin, loves both the uncertainty and vari- ety of winter deep dropping. "They offer variety to the winter striped bass run," he said. "When you drop down to the bottom out there, you never know what you are going to catch. It very well may be a species which you cannot even iden- tify." 13 Dr. Ken Neiti III pilots his Healthy Grin sportfishing boat toward home after a most productive day of winter deep drop fishing off the Virginia coast. Tilefish and Sea Bass Stats Tilefish are bottom dwellers. Blueline tile- fish like water from 240 to nearly 800 feet deep, and range from Virginia to Mexico. They burrow head first in cone-shaped sand piles and grow to nearly three feet. They eat crabs, shrimp, snails, worms, sea urchins and small fish, which gives them a flavor some claim is similar to lobster. Golden tilefish are more colorful and bigger than bluelines. They're found in water from 250 to 1,500 feet deep along the outer continental shelf and upper con- tinental slope along the entire eastern United States and Gulf of Mexico south to Venezuela. Black sea bass roam the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida, and the Gulf of Mex- ico. They like structured habitats such as reefs, wrecks, or oyster beds. Black sea bass eat whatever prey is available, but es- pecially like crabs, shrimp, worms, small fish, and clams. The world record of 10 pounds, four ounces was caught off Vir- ginia. Like many bottom dwellers, tilefish and sea bass growth rates are considered slow. Creatures of the Deep Indeed, some deep dropping trips see anglers wind in such exotic species as a Darwin's Slimehead. Who, besides an ichthyologist, has ever heard of a Darwin's Slimehead? Beyond targeted species such as black sea bass, tilefish, and grouper, deep dropping trips can find anglers hooked up with conger eels, hake, and spiny dogfish. Dogfish, a shark species, are often considered pests. They can dominate winter deep drop action, twisting bottom rigs into tan- gled messes as they roll incessantly after being hooked. Somewhat surprisingly, bigger bluefish can also be found deep alongside sea bass. One stop on Neill's early January outing last year saw Blow and Burnley pulling up al- ternates of 10-pound bluefish and nearly 6-pound sea bass. Blow waged a successful fight when a pair of big bluefish decided to bite each baited hook on his bottom rig. Not for the Fainthearted Winter is an unforgiving time to be 50 to 60 miles offshore. As Neill ex- plained, "The forecast always seems to be bad during the winter. The off- shore forecast is really not much help." He monitors the forecast for out to 20 nautical miles and the near real-time data provided by the off- shore weather buoy (a technological boon to anglers). If winds are 15 knots or less, he's willing to make a run out and see the actual conditions. Winter water temperatures quick- ly suck the heat from anyone unfor- tunate enough to become immersed in the sea. Help can be a long time in arriving when you're many miles off- shore. As a precaution, Neill and reg- ular fishing crew member Charles Southall wear cold water survival suits, which are designed to provide help with both flotation and life-sav- ing warmth for a couple hours. Off- shore trips this time of year often leave the dock in the dark and return "The popularity of deep dropping has grown beyond anyone's ex- pectation, " Neill said. "It is amaz- ing—the number of boats, even big headboats, willing to run that far to bottom fish. " in the dark, maximizing the amount of daylight fishing hours. Fuel prices have impacted the recreational and charter fishing indus- tries for several years. Deep dropping trips aboard headboats, which carry more people, typically cost less than smaller sportfishing boats, and usual- ly carry six people or fewer. Neill said costs per person can range between $100-$300 depending on the distance traveled and time spent offshore. Always a big place, the Atlantic Ocean can be downright lonely in the dead of winter. The Healthy Grin seemed to have the ocean largely to it- self on this early January morning. 14 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com Deep Drop Gear Dr. Ken NeilLIII is a representative of the International Game Fish Association and an avid deep dropper. He likes Penn 320 GTI, Shimano Torium and other conven- tional reels of similar size, matched with medium action rods. Use braided line of about 65-pound test. Braided line in- creases the sensitivity of the fish's bite hundreds of feet below the boat and is more durable in dealing with the under- water structure such species inhabit. Terminal leaders should be crafted from 80-150 pound line. Hook size can vary from 4/0 to 7/0 (seven-aught). Use a heavy enough sinker to remain in con- tact with the bottom. Heavy jigs or sinkers between 8 ounces and 2 pounds are appropriate, depending on water depth and conditions. Winding up hundreds of feet of line can be physically demanding. Some an- glers, especially those with physical lim- itations, use electric reels. While easier, fish caught using electrically-assisted reels are typically ineligible for sport- fishing record books. Bait & Technique Most fish will hit cut bait or jigs, but live 8-12 inch croaker or spot make ex- cellent bait for grouper and other big fish. For extremely deep water, some anglers dress it up with day-glow rubber skirts in a squid pattern and chemical glow sticks. On the January trip profiled here, sea bass bit well on hefty, 9-inch "Jerk that Jig" deep dropping jigs with 3D eyes, multi-layered reflective finish- es and glow-in-the-dark bellies. The fish often tries to dive into whatever cover exists along the bottom after the hook is set. Cut lines can await anglers who don't immediately retrieve line and firmly coax the fish into clear water. If the fish hangs up and the boat is anchored, slacking the line to release pressure on the fish may fool it into thinking it has gotten free. It may swim from cover on its own, giving the angler a second chance. Once the fish is clearly coming up, take it slow and steady. Novice anglers sometimes pump the rod too aggressively, increasing odds the hook will pull from the fish. Sea Bass Controversy A recent decision by the National Ocean- ic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to close recreational sea bass fishing in federal waters up to 200 miles offshore from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to Maine, for 180 days had many Virginia deep droppers disappointed. The closure was in response to data NOAA said showed recreational fishermen may catch more than double their annual quota by year's end. The Recreational Fishing Alliance was exploring a legal challenge. Winter deep dropping for sea bass will, undoubtedly, be affected this year, but count on anglers to resume the quest in April when the closure ends. Deep Drop Fishing Contacts An Internet search for "Virginia deep drop fishing charters" using Google will yield many Web sites of charter captains offering such trips. Another good bet is contacting various marinas around the Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads areas and asking for recommendations. Fewer than five boats were spotted all day and none crowded in on the fishing action. A vast, gently rolling blue sea blending against a crisp, blue sky winter day amplified the experience. Good natured banter, laughs, and en- ergy poured from the boat and dissi- pated into the watery wilderness as fish were swung aboard. The drop. The anticipation. The rod tip suddenly, sharply twitching downward. Then, two simple words that can cure just about any case of winter cabin fever: "Fish on!" Ken Perrotte is a King George County resident and the outdoors columnist for Fredericksburg's Free Lance-Star newspaper. Wes Blow admires the trophy citation sized blueline tilefish he caught during a banner day of fishing. Offshore seas were about as calm as they get in early January and anglers aboard the Healthy Grin caught multiple trophy fish. JANUARY 2010 WITH break, financial ruin, or other slip- pery situations which always beg the question, "What was I thinking?" Sometimes, however, I believe that little man inside your head just ignores certain consequences be- cause he is bored and wants to watch how things play out, or feels a partic- ular upcoming situation (usually formed somewhere else in your head as a good idea) will be one of those mistakes that creates what we so often call "learning experiences." The unfortunate deficit of a "learning experience" is that they come when we didn't know we needed to learn something or have the experience. So it was with me when I came up with the seemingly brilliant idea that a way to separate a certain sweet story by Clarke C. Jones illustrations by Tamara Norman Sometimes you just don't know who to believe. Have you ever known a good friend in whom you had absolute trust who convinced you to enter into a roman- tic, long-term commitment that will enrich the both of you, and then when some unpredictable hiccup oc- curs, as it usually does, leaves you quicker than a September suntan? We may all have fallen for one con or another, but maybe the most surpris- ing deception is the one we inflict upon ourselves. You know the one: It is when you tell yourself you are going to do something that will be for the good of someone else, and you personally will receive little if any benefit from it. Usually there is something inside your head, some little man perhaps, that sees the dangers that lie ahead long before you do and is sending up warning flares to cease and desist whatever you are planning. If you pay attention to the warning instincts flashing inside your cranium, you are able to avoid disappointment, heart- young thing's attention from the herd of a multitude of males was to invite her to go bird hunting. The brilliance of this idea was its simplici- ty. Offer something that she had never done before and thereby stand alone in some degree as a man capa- ble of presenting something unique and original. I had heard girls like that. Believing she was unfamiliar with firearms of any sort, I suggested be- fore we actually take to the field in search of quail or pheasant we should first go to a shooting range so that she would be acclimated to the intricacies of a shotgun and how to safely use one. This suggestion was met with much adoration and grati- 16 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com tude. She seemed very impressed that I was not only concerned about her safety and that of others, but as I pointed out, she would feel less self conscious in the field. I must admit I was somewhat pleased with myself with her response to this idea. My only objective was to turn one date into two. Having found that putting the concerns of others actually did pro- vide some benefit, I pressed on by suggesting we meet for dinner later and then drive up to a sporting goods store so she could look at various shotguns and accessories she may use in the field. This suggestion was also met with enthusiastic approval. I was now assured of three dates and began mentally waving goodbye to all her other suitors as they choked in my dust. Looking back, I believe it was at this point I became overly optimistic or just downright greedy. During dinner, she asked me about the guns I owned and what the term 'gauges' meant and how chokes affected a shot pattern. She told me how much she loved the outdoors and had al- ways wanted to go bird hunting be- cause her father had always spo- ken so fondly of it. When I asked why she had never gone before, she replied that all the men in her life ever asked her to do was go snow ski- ing or go sailing on their boats or took her to their country club for tennis or golf. Then she looked at me with those big doe eyes and said, "I am so excit- ed that we are doing this!" Ashamedly I have to admit, as we drove in her foreign-made convert- ible with the standard three numbers on its trunk, I had perhaps let things get a little out of hand. Maybe it was the warm September air or maybe it was the wine at dinner, but I was thinking about digit jewelry and an ivy-covered cottage as we pulled into the sporting goods store. T / / _ / ' < ' '/ JANUARY 20 1 17 Walking into one of the last bas- tions of maledom with a long-legged, tidy blond can do wonders for your ego. I don't believe I have ever strut- ted before, but I think I was strutting then. In fact I would pay good money to buy the surveillance video tape from that store just to see me 'pimp walk' over to the shotgun counter. It is truly amazing how good cus- tomer service can be when you are the right kind of customer or, in my case, walk in with one. At least three courteous if not over-eager gun sales- men positioned themselves as best they could to be of assistance. "We would like to look at some shotguns," I announced in my most authoritative manner. "We'll start with a 20-gauge for the lady." One of the men behind the count- er offered several American or Japan- ese models. We looked at over and unders and semi-automatics of vari- ous lengths and brands, all for the purpose of me acquainting this love- ly lady who had captured everyone's attention with my superior knowl- edge of gunning and prolonging this date as much as I could. Have you ever had the experience in early summer when you first go to the beach and feel the sun's warmth melt away the winter blues while a sweet ocean breeze washes over you only to later learn that same sun was melting away skin cells as well? As I was basking in the glory of my per- ceived element alongside this vision I had introduced to a gun shop, I real- ized too late I had basked too long when I heard her say, "May I see that one with the gold inlay?" Happily, the clerk pulled a beauti- ful high-grade Italian shotgun from the rack, broke open the barrels, and placed it in her hands. She traced her fingers gently over the scroll work on the receiver admiringly. All eyes were upon her as she snapped the gun shut and brought it to her shoul- der. She brought the gun down and handed it back to one of the young men behind the counter. "It is beautiful," she said. "Simply beautiful." There are always those moments in a horror film when the soon-to-be victim believes he has escaped his pursuer and has averted death or danger. Breathing heavily, his back pressed against a darkened wall, the terror begins to fade from his eyes as he believes he has cheated fate. He turns a corner, only to meet evil with a menacing blade that proceeds to cut him to ribbons. I, too, had one of those momentary lapses until she looked up at me and said, "Darling, it's the one I want." All of a sudden the kind of atten- tion I was enjoying quickly soured. Now all eyes were on me. I placed my hand on the counter ever so slightly to steady myself. I didn't have to look; I could feel three Cheshire smiles from behind the sales counter. They had seen this coming long be- fore I did. Although I didn't own a high-grade Italian shotgun, I had al- VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com ways wanted to buy one someday. It is amazing how fast the future can come at you when you least expect it. A team of gastroenterologists from the most prestigious medical schools in the country could not cure the sickening feeling that had just in- vaded the pit of my stomach. I again placed my hand on the glass counter to steady a knee-buckling feeling that was making a mockery of the cocky walk I exhibited while entering the gun store. Looking desperately for an escape route like a panicked fawn encircled by a pack of wolves, I realized my es- cort and her attention to a fine im- ported shotgun had attracted a small group of customers just as a poker player on a hot streak in Las Vegas. I had been 'called' and it was time to show my hand. All I was holding was a pair of credit cards nearing their credit limit. When one finds himself in the ticklish situation of having to perform under pressure the first rule is never to show fear. A cracking voice and trembling hand make it hard to hide a bluff. "Certainly darling, that's just the very gun you shall have!" I said with all the bravado I could muster. And to the sales staff, "Will $500 serve as a down payment and hold this masterpiece? We have some more pressing things ahead of us tonight and really don't have time to fill out the required paperwork." The banks now closed, I had about 12 hours to either win the state lottery or come up with an excuse why that particular shotgun was not for my lady friend. I wrote out the check, thinking a $30 stop payment charge would be a lot cheaper than the finan- cial tsunami I had just avoided. Knowing the "pressing things ahead" comment had implied a sub- tle innuendo of a chance of romance, I took the lady's arm and, as the small crowd parted, we walked out of the store. I could not help but notice how different a person walks when per- spiration has am down their legs and filled both shoes. □ Clarke C. Jones spends his spare time with his black Labrador retriever, Luke, hunting up good stories. You can visit Clarke and Luke on their Web site at www.clarkecjones.com. JANUARY 2010 ! Grow Wild! Virginia 's Changing story by Cristina Santiestevan illustrations by Spike Knuth f LJ ising seas, raging storms, ^f- \ and damaging flood waters \that seem to never recede. Submerged houses. Eroded barrier is- lands. Such coastal horrors may be reminiscent of New Orleans, but the bayou is not the only coastal region that should be paying close attention to cli- mate change and its associated threats. Virginia is home to more than 5,000 miles of tidal shoreline, according to the Va. Institute of Marine Science, and much of it is terribly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In fact, ac- cording to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Virginia coast is VW, the second-most vulnerable coastal IjLdV region in the United States— sec- 1 ond only to the Gulf Coast re- gion that includes New Orleans. ¥ Climate change is also known as global warming for one very good reason: Our planet will get warmer. Perhaps significantly warmer. The southeast region of the United States has already warmed nearly 2°F since 1901 — enough to alter spring bloom times and first frost dates — and could warm another 4.5-9°F by 2080. By the end of this cen- tury, Virginia's coastal areas could be facing summers where temperatures climb above 90°F on more than 75 days. Currently the region experiences 15 to 30 such days every year. Rocketing temperatures affect more than air conditioning bills, of course. Significantly warmer summer temper- atures will lead to heat stress and heat- i 1 Northern Harrier Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle related illness in plants and animals, could alter the growth patterns of plants, and will almost certainly cause many animals to shift their ranges northward. The Northern harrier (p. 20), for example, currently nests in Virginia's salt and brackish marshes. Also known as the marsh hawk, this large bird of prey cruises marshes and fields for small mam- mals, birds, and reptiles. Harriers build their nests on the ground, where they lay anywhere from 2 to 10 eggs. Although Northern harriers do nest along Virginia's coast, these birds more commonly nest in cooler regions — as far north as northern Alaska and Canada — and Virginia represents the southern limit to their breeding range. As temperatures climb, these impressive raptors may become no more than occasional winter visitors to the common- creased damage and erosion from coastal flooding and storm surges. Low-lying salt marshes, mud flats and tidal areas will be hit hardest and could see severe losses due to erosion and storm damage. More frequent and intense storms could spell disaster for coastal nest- ing birds, such as the piping plover. Vir- ginia's barrier islands support a small but sta- ble population of about 200 breeding pairs of pip- ing plover. The same habi- tats these birds prefer for breeding — wide open beaches that run into ex- panses of tidal mud and sand flats — are home to other threatened species, like the Northeastern beach tiger beetle, that are unlikely to weather the fierce events and floodwaters predicted. Such storms can wash away eggs, drown unfledged chicks, and deluge beetle habitat. Strong storms already impact piping plovers, and may have contributed to the poor survival rates seen in the 2008 breeding season, when less than one chick survived, on average, for every clutch of eggs laid. These fatal storm and flooding events will become more common in the coming decades. wealth. Temperature is not the only thing that will change. More violent storms will pum- mel coastal and tidal re- gions. These storms, coupled with stronger waves, will lead to in- JANUARY 2010 Perhaps most devastating, the seas will rise, submerging low-lying coastal land, salt marshes, and mud flats. Most predictions anticipate a rise of 2 to 6 feet. Because more than 350 square miles of Virginia's land lies less than five feet above sea level, such changes could swamp entire ecosystems. Already, one-third of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is submerged and numerous Chesa- peake Bay islands are losing ground or already underwater. Absent coastal development, ris- ing seas should simply push salt marshes and tidal habitats inland. However, because much of Virginia's coast is developed — one-fifth of Vir- ginians live on or near the coast — many salt marshes will have no- where to go. Some regions could ef- fectively lose their entire marshy and tidal habitats. Such a loss would be devastating for the many animals and plants that live in brackish salt marshes. The dia- mondback terrapin, for example, is the only turtle in the world known to live exclusively in brackish water. These attractive turtles sport dia- mond-shaped patterns on their shells and black spots and squiggles on Black Rai their faces and legs. Diamondback terrapins live throughout Virginia's extensive tidal marshes, bogs, and es- tuaries, where they hunt fishes, snails, worms, and crabs. The turtles are frequently seen by boaters as they sun themselves on half-submerged logs. As brackish areas are squeezed between a rising sea and immobile coastal development, diamondback terrapins may become a rarer sight for boaters and water enthusiasts. Diamondback terrapins are not alone. Many of Virginia's marsh birds also rely upon this band of habitat that lies between open water and solid ground. Salt marshes, barrier is- lands, and tidal zones support a range of shorebirds, herons, terns, and songbirds. Among these, the black rail may suf- fer the greatest losses as sea levels rise. Barely measur- ing 6 inches in length and 11 inches in wingspan, the black Diamondback Terrapin Act Wild Want to help Virginia's coastal and tidal creatures weather climate change? Here are three simple ways to make a difference: 1. Support efforts to protect wildlife habi- tat locally and statewide. Undeveloped sweeps of land and water may be nec- essary as our climate changes, and some species begin to migrate further north or more inland. 2. Volunteer with local or statewide clean-up events or habitat preserva- tion programs. Clean beaches and un- polluted waterways will help wildlife thrive today, ensuring they will be bet- ter prepared as climate changes be- come more dramatic. 3. Inspire your friends and family to get involved by sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm with them. rail is the smallest and shyest of North America's rails. This secretive bird lives and breeds exclusively in ir- regularly flooded salt marshes, such as those that line Virginia's tidal reaches. Some sea level rise predic- tions indicate that their breeding areas will be completely covered with salt water. The black rail could be- come homeless. Distance does not protect us. Cli- mate change impacts across the coun- try can still affect Virginia's wildlife. Already, fewer redhead ducks and other waterfowl are visiting the Chesapeake Bay as part of their annu- al migration. Drier conditions, caused by climate change, are damaging their breeding grounds in the Prairie Pothole region. Rising temperatures here also discourage the birds from visiting; warmer water impedes eel- grass growth, a habitat these birds rely upon for forage. We cannot, at this point, stop cli- mate change. Nor can we push the rising waters back into the sea. Salt marshes and tidal flats rely on free- flowing water and occasional tidal surges; seawalls would choke them out. Instead, we can help our coastal ecosystems and wildlife survive the coming changes by bolstering their health and habitats today. Many of the coastal animals and ecosystems that will suffer greatest from climate change are already at risk due to habitat loss, water pollu- tion, disease, or invasive species. Be- cause they are already struggling, these animals — piping plovers, dia- mondback terrapins, and Northern harriers, for example — will be less able to withstand the changes their habitats will experience as seas rise and temperatures increase. In response, the Department has completed a plan of action that will help our ecosystems and wildlife weather the effects of climate change. Habitat preservation may be the best thing we can do. By limiting dense coastal developments, we preserve a zone of undeveloped land where salt marshes can migrate as sea levels rise. Reducing threats to individual species will also help, because when the species are able to thrive today, they are better able to adapt when their habitats or food supplies begin to change. There is no denying that Virginia's coastal salt marshes, estuaries, and barrier islands will change in the coming decades. Rising seas will carve a new coastline, and warmer temperatures may invite a new suite of species to our shores. But, by pro- tecting and strengthening coastal ecosystems today, we help ensure that some of our favorite animals and habitats remain here in the future as well. □ Cristina Santiestevan writes about wildlife and the environment from her home in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. RESOURCES Virginia Wildlife Action Plan http://bewildvirginia.org National Wildlife Federation, Fact Sheet www.nwf.org/globalwarming/ pdfs/vi rginia.pdf Center for Coastal Resources Mgmt. Virginia Institute of Marine Science www.ccrm.vims.edu Wetlands Watch www.wetlandswatch.org JANUARY 2010 Redhead ducks 23 story and photos by Gail Brown V ^^^^^ m L ason Weston has ^^^^^^ y been fishing since he was four years old, mostly in a pond on the family farm with his brothers and dad, and over the past seven years at all of the Cat- fish Showdown's Kids Fishing Days held at nearby John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake). Prior to last September, Jason hadn't caught anything of much size and didn't even have a tall tale to tell about "the one that got away" Now he doesn't need one. Last September 19th at the 7th annual Kids Fishing Day, 11 -year-old Jason brought in the largest fish ever caught at the event — an award- winning 18.04-lb. catfish! During the 15-minute brouhaha that started the minute that big cat hit the hook, chances were 50-50 that the monster from the deep might win. When it was over, Jason prevailed. With a final victory pull (but no net in sight), Jason's dad and older brother jumped in to help make sure his blue cat stayed caught. "I only had a 15-lb. line on my rod, but I had the drag set. It pulled some and I pulled some, then it pulled harder . . . but finally I pulled it in. I was worried it would break the line." When asked how he felt when the struggle was over, Jason summed it all up with a laugh and a happy "Oh, boy!" And that sums it up for the entire tournament, too: Oh, boy what a day! While the Catfish Showdown's Kids Fishing Day only comes to life for one day a year each September, that's a lucky thing. Any more fun and the Is wouldn't know where to keep all those happy memories, much less the armload of prizes and goodies they take home. Perhaps long-time resident and fisherman Ray "Hoghead" Jones came up with the idea for a kids' fish- ing day while sitting in his boat in one of Buggs Island Lake's secluded coves; or, maybe it came to him as he left Weston's Grocery after a morning spent swapping fish tales with friends. Either way, with a picture in his mind of how to make magic for all youngsters, Hoghead made it his 24 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com r 1 'jyjj goal to see that one day each year the lake at Staunton View Park would be set aside just for kids. Adults could bait hooks and untangle lines, but the shoreline would be reserved for the youngsters! There, future genera- tions would throw out their lines and begin building their own memories of that great rural American experi- ence — time out fishin' with friends. Dreams like Hoghead's can't be- come a reality without a lot of help from others, and fortunately there has never been a shortage of like- minded, sports-lovin' people in and around Red Oak. With the success of the first (adult) Catfish Showdown fishing tournament fresh in every- one's minds, getting the same experi- ence set up for kids was like catching a fish in a barrel: You just knew it was going to happen. The immediate sup- port of friends Warren Weston and John Moore, along with generous do- nations from area businesses, was all that was needed to get things rolling. With the date set and information posted on their Web site (www.the catfishshowdown.com), the big event was set to become a dream come true — until a nightmare named Isabel crashed the party. A hurricane to be reckoned with, Isabel tore up the park, toppling trees and tossing debris everywhere. But 85 kids had signed up to fish and the men were going to see that they had their chance: Two weeks after the storm, the first Kids Fishing Day took place and set the precedent for things to come. As the years passed, atten- dance, as well as the number of spon- sors and volunteers from the Red JANUARY 2010 Above: Finished fishing? Take off your shoes and take a break! Below: Jason's big catch set a record at the Catfish Showdown's Kids Fishing Day. From L to R: Sheriff Danny Fox, Mecklenburg Co.; Jason Weston; Danny Weston; and Conservation Police Officer Mark Van Dyke, Mecklenburg Co. 25 Oak community, grew rapidly. Last year 414 kids fished, with 1,212 at- tending the event! Increasing gen- erosity from area sponsors continues to make it possible for everyone to enjoy a great (and free!) lunch that in- cludes hotdogs, soda, cookies, chips, and snowcones of every color. Spon- sorship also allows the kids to win some very impressive prizes and even borrow rods and reels and bait for the day, if needed. Those who don't win a prize for the fish they land can win toys at the many free ac- tivities, like the hay search and gold- fish pool. Then there are the water games, remote control trucks, face painting, moonwalk, and the dunk- i ng booth to enjoy. Thomas Martin, who came from Danville with his three daughters (10, 4, and 2) for their second tourna- ment, stated: "I really commend them for doing this. We didn't catch any fish, just plenty of mud, but good times were had by all! Events like this are few and far between!" The mud Martin is talking about is plentiful and there is a reason for it and the changing shoreline. Man- aged by the U. S. Army Corps of En- gineers, the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir (known here as Buggs Is- land Lake) was constructed in the 1950s for flood control and to gener- ate hydropower. Josh Deal, a forester for the Corps, explained: "In the spring the water level is raised to aid in fish spawn, and in the fall and win- ter the water level is lowered to aid in flood control capacity. It's a challenge to create a balance." Josh is there to answer questions about the lake, as are representatives from the Virginia Department of Forestry, Charlotte County Soil and Water Conservation District, the Mecklenburg Sheriff's Department, and the Department of Game and In- land Fisheries. While there officially to answer boating, fishing, and other environmental questions, it was ob- vious they were having a great time visiting with families and watching the fishing, too. DGIF Conservation Police Officer Bobby Kemery who has attended the event as a parent and on assignment, said, "Everything about the day is positive. Families can come out and Kids Fishing Day is fun for the whole family! have a good time; kids can fish with- out being crowded by adults ; and the fact that the tournament promotes good ethical practices like 'catch and release' helps to ensure the fishing at the lake will only get better." Deal agreed, adding, "It's great to see the kids away from those elec- tronic games they play inside, getting outside in nature, enjoying fishing." And enjoying the mud, too! Re- gardless of how the mud got there, these young anglers seemed to be- lieve it was put there just for them, to ensure they had a great time, fish or no fish. Surprisingly, the muddier they got, the less mom and dad seemed to mind. Apparently these grownups know Hoghead's secret: Fish and mud and being outside with friends is all kids need to make them happy. And maybe a snowcone or two. □ Gail Brown is a retired teacher and school administrator. VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com \m t- ■ w M *. . f» J New Holland Hydraulic Oil 1»4 Q=r In spring, a young man's fancy is supposed to turn to love. But if you have just acquired a new puppy then it doesn't matter how old you are. A new pup brings with it real love. The "don't care what kind of car you drive; don't care how smart you are; don't care if you can't get a date" kind of love. If you anticipate hunt- ing with your dog in the future, a new pup brings hope as well. That's quite a lot in one little, furry package with big eyes and bigger feet. To make sure your hopes and dreams with your future hunting partner come to fruition, there is nothing better than a little training and a little planning. First and fore- most, training should be simple and fun for your puppy. There are a cou- ple of things that helped me when I was a pup that may help you with your new best friend. As soon as you can, enroll yourselves in a puppy obedience class. It may save your dog's life if it learns to obey the three key commands immediately — COME, SIT, and STAY— and instruc- tion time also provides a bonding op- portunity. If you enroll in a class, you will soon realize that what you learn will have to be repeated daily or your pup will fall behind in its lessons. Obedience class really isn't about you training your dog — it's about training you to be a dog trainer! If you hope your dog will do some retrieving for you, start its training with an old sock in the hallway or any short runway where your pup will have to come to you without tak- ing any detours. Take the balled-up sock and play with it in front of the puppy so that it looks like the best thing a dog could put in his mouth. When your pup has its focus on you, and the sock, toss the sock a short dis- tance down the hallway and let the pup run after it. When the pup picks up the sock, start calling your pup's name. We are going to assume the dog knows its name because you have been saying it at least every time you feed it. We are also going to as- sume it might know the word COME because you have been say- ing "HOOVER, COME!" every time you feed it. Believe me, Hoover will be coming anytime there is food but introducing a command and a treat doesn't hurt in beginner lessons. It is always good to say the dog's name before issuing any command. Now back to the sock thing. En- courage your dog to come. You may have to pat the floor or whistle but try to make sure the puppy thinks that the best place to be with the sock is next to you. When it gets to you, start praising your pup like he is the best puppy that ever lived! Praise should be immediate once the pup has obeyed your command. The idea is to get your dog to understand that YOU provide the fun and that following your command is a great thing. Do this about three times at first, but make sure you stop your training les- son while the pup still wants more. Do this maybe 3 or 4 times a day if possible but keep these lessons short and FUN! If you are consistent with this lesson, eventually the puppy will associate the sock with FUN. It will also begin to associate that coming to you gets a positive response. Eventu- ally, you will be able to increase the distance in the hallway. Once your pup follows this com- mand in a controlled situation, your next step is to go outside and try this, but you should have your pup on a short lead. You should control the training, not the pup. There are a lot of distractions and smells outside, and since we dogs "see with our noses" as well as with our eyes, that sock or training bumper may be kind of 'old hat' for us compared to what's out- doors. Remember, everything is new to us, so be patient. Repeat the same lesson the same way outside as you did inside. If your pup begins to wan- der and investigate things instead of coming to you, gently tug on the lead, pulling it to you, and praise the pup for being such a good dog. Keep the space your dog must travel to you short at first; then gradually increase the distance. Again, when the pup gets to you with the sock, heap praise on it. As before, stop your training be- fore your pup gets bored. The idea is to make being rubbed and praised by you a whole lot more fun than whatever else may be dis- tracting it. Eventually, you can try this exercise off-lead, but if your pup starts to ignore or disobey your com- mand, immediately put it back on lead and return to the first steps of your training. Do not be discouraged if your pup seems to have progressed with all the commands you have taught it and then regresses back to a point where it behaves like it never had a lesson. Keep training, be pa- tient, be consistent, and use positive reinforcement when it listens to your command. Those with teenagers will under- stand. □ Keep a leg up, Luke Luke is a black Labrador retriever who spends his spare time hunting up good stories with his best friend, Clarke C. Jones. You can contact Luke and Clarke at www.clarkecjones.com. 28 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com Al>ucJ^ V/usit&t v5 Joama/ fy 7~&& CJark/3<=>m January <? , 2009 *f~} y the end erf the SeaSon, most of my norma/ duck Spots had frozen So/id. father than M^** pack it /'/?, X decided X coou/d do Something neco and try a /itt/ejump Shooting, l^ithout ■Lr^ much trouf>/e X ConVi nCed a friend of mine to ditch h'S doyjof> and head coeSt to f/oat a Sma// fiVer cohere. X had Seen Some ducJ(S in the fa// cohi/e flshinq for Sma//mouth oOSS . X hoped, coith the ponds frozen , the f>irds coou/d f/oCt( to the fiVerS . "To this point X had on/y hinted coith this guy one other timey and it coaS not the f>eSt of hunts. At the beginning of the SeOSon X had dragged his*? 300 yards through /?ne& deep mud y got US /oStf miSSed the first f/ght at Shooting timey and dumped into Some other auy3' } u/timate- /y, cue ended up sat i no Stea/( and eqaS at a diner coithout eVen /oadina our aUnS . "Tru/yy X coaS amazed he had agreed to another/hunt coith me . lOe reached the riv&r around q am. and dropped his dor first cohere coe coou/d take out. "Things Zoo/fed promisi no. "The fiVer coaS open coith no ice. faJe Spotted a feco merganSerS Scoimmina around the oend } So there coaS Some /ife around . faJhen coe reached the put-in, thinaS Zoomed much the Same, no ide in the fiVer to SpeaJ( of. fVerythina footed /i/^e a Qo. l*Je loaded the COnoe } thr&co on our /ifejacketSy and Set out on our coay. X took the front of the canoe coith /ooded QUn. Xt coaS a different Sort of hunting than X coaS USed to, f>ut X coaS enjoyina Scanning the fiVer f>e/oco US rather than the s/(ieS aZoVe . tOe hadn t Qone 300 yards Aefore X Spotted Some oirds Zoafing in an eddy formed oy a doconed tree . MoStZy they looked Zi/(e wore fsh eaterS, out there did Seem to oe one ogoer oird in the oUnch- HS coe Crept c/oSer, the f>irds got nerVouS and /i-fted off the coater before coe got in range . Just as X thought it coaS over, they a// turned and headed f>ack upstream. X let the first group paSS) cohich coere a// meroanSerS > and coaited as that f>g £ird y a /one oreenheady sai/ed riaht oVer top. Xt coaS On eaSy Shot, Aut coith the OtokcoardneSS of the COnoe and the /ifejac^et, X m'SSed coith the frst tcoo rounds, fortunate/y Xfo/ded him coith the third, tfuick/y X started iny pat- ting mySeZf on the f>acJ( for ha/ina such a oreat idea. ~T~he ne\t tcoenty minuteS yie/ded not hi no out had done ZittZe to discouraae US. "There coaS p/enty of fiVer /eft and Certain/y more oirds. "The on/y thing that coaS oeainnina to maj(e me nerV- oUS coaS the ice . (3radua//y it had appeared on the sides of the river, narrocoina it o\y ha/ fin Some p/aCeS. Sti//, there coaS moVina coater. tOe coou/d oe fine. X /oSt that Confident fee/ina OS coe rounded the next o"end y on/y to find the fiVer Comp/ete/y iced oVer O^out 3<2 yards &e/oco. "There coas a/ ready ice a/onQ the Steep Aan/fSy So there coaS /itt/e Choice f>ut to drift into the sheet 6e/oco and hope coe CoU/d s/ide the Canoe a/onQ the top. l*Jhat had started as a /eisure/y day of Jump S hoot i no ouic^/y o'ecame a surviva/ mission. tOithin minuteS coe coere Stucfc on the f/oe in the midd/e of the fiVer . "The coaler coaS deep and fast Underneath . "The ice, cohich Zoomed to o'e aJ>out 2 inches thic/(, coou/d neVer Support our coeia/jty and it coaS c/ear that if either or f>oth of US ended up in the coater here, there coou/d o'e no aettina out a/iVe. S/oco/y coe coere aj>/e to s/ide the COnoe Up on the ice coith our padd/eS and then each StuCJ^ one foot out on either Side and s/id the Canoe a/ona the Surface . Xt coaS s/oco and tedious aoinay f>ut coe coere marina procu-eSS and eventua//y made it to the f>ank cohere the coater coaS Sha//ocoer and coe Cou/d aet out and drag the f>oat. "T~he. pro6/em coaS coe had SeVera/ mi/eS to qo. Xhe fiVer opened f>ac/( £ SeVera/ occasions £uty for the most party coe Spent the rest day s/iding and draggma the canoe in Aetcoeen — fearina for our ZiVeS. As for the huntingy coe neVer Sato another ducJ(. 8y /ate afternoon fina//y reached the tafce-out . tOe had Just one ma//ard to shocoy coe coere a/ive and that coaS victory enough on this day. Once f>ack in the car } X /et out a /ong sigh and cranked the heatt My f>uddy turned to mey and coith a Stone Co/d expression Said, X don t knoco if X can qo duck hunting coith you anymore . X can t say that X Siame him rea//y. 2010 Outdoor Calendar of Events Unless otherwise noted, for current information and registration on work- shops go to the "Upcoming Events" page on our Web site at www.Hunt- FishVA.com or call 804-367-7800. January 2: Firearms seasons close for bear, deer, and turkey. Late archery and late muzzleloading deer seasons close. January 9: Educational Youth Water- fowl Hunting Workshop, Essex. January 14, 16, 21, 23, 26: Learn to Use Your Digital Camera, with Lynda Richardson at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. For more informa- tion: www.lewisginter.org or call (804) 262-9887, ext. 322. January 15-17: The Richmond Fishing Expo, Richmond Raceway Complex. For more information: www.ncboatshows.com. January 16: Educational Youth Rabbit Hunting Workshop, Wayside Park, Pittsylvania County. For ages 17 and under. Registration is limited. SUBSCRIBE TO THB\ Virginia department of Game and Inland Fisheries Outdoor Report For a free email subscription, visit our Web site at www.HuntFishVA.com. Click on the Outdoor Report [ink and simply fill in the required information. January 22-24: Virginia Boat Shozv, The Greater Richmond Convention Center, Richmond: http:/ /marine source.com/boat_shows / virginia_ boat_show.cfm. January 28, 30, Feb. 4, 6, 9: Photographing Winter's Wonders, with Lynda Richardson at the Lewis Gin- ter Botanical Garden, Richmond. For more information: www.lewis ginter.org or call (804) 262-9887, ext. 322. January 30: Winter Wildlife Festival, Virginia Beach. For more informa- tion, contact Jeff Trollinger at email@example.com. January 30: Quail and squirrel sea- sons close February 12-15: 2010 Great Backyard Bird Count. For more information: www.audubon.org / gbbc or www.birdsource.org / gbbc. February 13: Grouse season closes. February 27: Rabbit season closes. April 3: Youth Spring Turkey Hunt Day. For ages 1 5 and younger. □ Lifetime Licenses Open the door to a lifetime of enjoyment in the great outdoors of Virginia with a lifetime freshwater fishing, hunting or trout license! It's an investment that keeps on giving. For more information visit: http://www.HuntFishVA.com/forms/ lifetime_licenses/instructions.html or call 1- (866) 721-6911 Report Wildlife Violations 1 -800-237-571 2 Volunteers Needed: Trout Stream Study In late April, volunteers will spread out through the state's western mountains gathering water samples for the Virginia Trout Stream Sensi- tivity Study (VTSSS). Implemented 30 years ago by watershed scientists at the University of Virginia, VTSSS is among the longest running and most important studies of acidic deposi- tion and its impact on air and water quality in the nation. Under VTSSS, U.Va. scientists check the acidity of about 65 moun- tain streams every three months. Temperature monitoring on some of these streams this year will improve our understanding of the impact of climate change. But every ten years, scientists rely upon volunteers to col- lect water samples from about 450 creeks in the commonwealth's mountains. Each volunteer is given precise directions to sampling sites on two or three streams. They fill bot- tles with water and return them to a regional coordinator, who packs them in ice for delivery to U.Va. Overall coordination of the sam- pling is managed by the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited. To vol- unteer, go to www.VCTU.org, or con- tact the TU chapter nearest you. VTSSS volunteers have provided data critical for the enforcement of power plant and other emissions standards. Water sampling is an im- portant component of trout restora- tion efforts in Virginia. And there's simply no better excuse for prowling a new trout stream than April's VTSSS sampling. □ Tliis report was contributed by TU member Marcia Woolman. 30 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com by Beth Hester APassion for Nature: Thomas Jefferson and Natural History Keith Thomson 2009 University of North Carolina Press, for The Thomas Jefferson Foundation $14.95; 1-800-848-6224 This volume is one of several in the Monticello Monograph Series which was launched in 1993 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Jefferson's birth. It provides an unusual glimpse of Jef- ferson as the premier citizen-scientist of his day; it is a window into the me- thodical soul of this complex Virgin- ian, and a snapshot of 18th-century rural Virginia. Thomas Jefferson revered the Albemarle countryside which sur- rounded his beloved Monticello. For all the aesthetic pleasure he took in his surroundings, he was equally concerned with tailoring the land- scape to take advantage of its biologi- cal richness and diversity. By his na- ture, Jefferson was a compulsive and prolific list maker /diarist who docu- mented the changing seasons, the progress of his farm, daily weather data, and his archeological and geo- logical explorations. Curious about the West, Jefferson helped initiate the Lewis and Clark expeditions, was an amateur paleontologist, and ex- plored American Indian folkways. Though his public duties necessi- tated long stretches away from his home, over his lifetime Jefferson ex- perimented with individual plants and whole crops, established a deer park, cultivated flower and vegetable gardens, raised sheep, goats, and rab- bits — always tweaking his methods of scientific farming and animal hus- bandry. The rich woods and upland forests surrounding Monticello were filled with squirrels, turkeys, otters, deer, beavers, raccoons, foxes and chipmunks, bobcats, wolves, cougars, and the occasional elk in the high grounds. Encouraging variety, Jefferson used the mixed species woods around his home to best ad- vantage, and created spaces on his land to cultivate fruits arid nuts. Jef- ferson was a huge fan of the pecan tree, and was one of the first to recog- nize that it was a species distinct from the white walnut. Jefferson's personal philosophy The 2010 ^Calenda IsAvailable It's once again time to purchase a Virginia Wildlife calendar — that's still a bargain at $10 each. As always, the calendar features spectacular photography and useful information to the outdoors enthusiast, including wildlife behavior, hunting seasons, favorable hunting and fishing times, state fish records, and more! Quantities Are Limited, So Order Yours Today. Make your check payable to "Treasurer ofVirginia" and send to: Virginia Wildlife Calendar, P.O. Box 11 1 04, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 104. To pay by VISA or MasterCard, you may order online at www.HuntFishVA.com on our se- cure site. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. of life was deeply rooted in his views about nature arid agriculture, and au- thor Keith Thomson could not have described this world view in more accurate terms: "Natural history was not just a hobby for Jefferson, it was central to his world view. Out of his passion for natural history, Jefferson developed the belief that nature is the guide to all that is good and pure ami thus must be the basis of a per- son's education and subsequently their general philosophy. " □ ***************** SCH 3-DIGIT 229 #VIR0002235105/8#60 MAY10 JOHN SMITH P.O. BOX 11104 RICMOND VA 23230-1104 Reading Your Label Is it time to renew? If you are uncertain when your subscription expires, look for the expiration date in the circled location on the sample above. JANUARY 20 1 31 Making Accommodations We are reminded in this month's Be Wild feature (p. 20) that climate change will bring with it a new set of stressors to wildlife — felt first and foremost throughout Virginia's coastal reaches. Birds and fishes and a host of other creatures that count on the fragile ecosystems at the inter- play of land and water are among the most vulnerable. A rising sea that in- undates the low-lying marshes and spits of land used by these species will force them inland to find new corridors for travel and fuel. Building on that premise, you may share an interest in climate change strategies that are being in- corporated by Virginia's conserva- tion community for the benefit of all game and nongame species. Recom- mended actions have been collected in a newly released report, "Vir- ginia's Strategy for Safeguarding Vir- ginia's Species of Greatest Conserva- tion Need from the Effects of Climate Change." Healthy habitats support healthy wildlife and human communities, and habitat conservation is the single most important action we can take to safeguard wildlife from climate change. Some 13 river systems and a broad inventory of wetlands, wood- ed bottomlands, and coastal marshes are called out in the report for their ailing condition and need for restora- tion, in order to maintain resilience to a changing climate. Targeted re- gions will need financial resources, not to mention human willpower, to recover. Another strategy speaks to the need to revise Virginia's Endangered Species Act to allow for more flexibil- ity on private property. Endangered species that reside in isolated pock- ets may need to be transported to new locations where habitat condi- tions will support them, quite likely on private lands. In such situations, bi- ologists and managers seek "experi- mental status" for these popula- tions — allowing public and private partners to conserve them within a more flexible legal framework. These strategic responses repre- sent initial guidance to safeguard our most threatened species while more comprehensive measures are hammered out. Such measures will be built upon much-needed data and climate modeling, still missing from Answers to the December 2009 "Byrd Nest" Crossword Puzzle C R O S our collective suite of management tools. The data will be critical if we are going to both conserve our wildlife legacy and accommodate the needs of people on our changing landscapes as things heat up. For more information, go to: http: / / bewildvirginia.org. -SHM OutdfiS^ King George-based outdoor writer Ken Perrotte likes to take his grandchildren, Kenny and McKayla, deer hunting with him whenever they get the opportunity. Unfortunately for the youngsters, they were in a ground blind hunting with grandmother Maria when Ken took this nice 10-pointer on the last day of muzzleloader season. -&4W6LBA- " Maybe if we hurry we can still make it to the boat show." 32 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com Ken and Maria Perrotte Baby Back Squirrels i\ kay, so there is no barbecue sauce on this recipe and the \J squirrels aren't slow cooked in a smokehouse. The recipe name is designed more to conjure thoughts of how eas- ily that moist baby back rib meat slides off the bone. Squirrel prepared this way also slides off the bone easily. Unless you get the most grizzled, rutty old buck squirrels, this recipe leaves the meat delicate and succulent, terms rarely heard when din- ing on squirrel. People who've never eaten a squirrel might just be con- verted with this recipe. It is a variation on the traditional Coq au Vin (chicken with wine). This recipe also works for rabbit, chukar, pheasant and, yes, even chicken. Virginia has some very liberal squirrel seasons from June to January with lots of opportunities to get some bushytails prepped for the pot. Whether contemplating deer or squirrels for the dinner table, proper handling in the field plays a big role in later success in the kitchen. Preparation 2 squirrels cut into 6-8 pieces. Keep leg and shoulder sections together, cup flour teaspoon pepper tablespoons butter tablespoons vegetable oil 4 to 6 ounces (about 12 small) whole mushrooms 4 or 5 pearl onions 2 k cup chicken broth Vt cup dry sherry 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce V2 teaspoon Creole seasoning* * We've used Konrico, Zatterans and Tony Chachere's brands of Creole seasoning. Seasoning salt and a little cayenne pep- per can be substituted. This isn't a spicy dish, so go easy on the cayenne. Heat oven to 3 50 degrees. Mix flour and pepper in a bag, add squirrel and shake to coat. Melt butter in oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the squirrel pieces and brown on all sides. 2 2 Put squirrel with pan drippings, mushrooms, and onions into a baking dish. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over top. Cover and bake for about 1 k hours until tender. Serves two. (Recipe can easily be multiplied to feed a crowd.) Notes: Some say squirrel benefits from being soaked for a half-hour in water with a tablespoon or two of vinegar. If they're cleaned quickly and properly, we've not found it necessary, but it prob- ably doesn't hurt. Recommended side dishes: Serve with seasoned collard greens for genuine down home "company vittles." A side dish of wild rice also goes well. Keep plenty of napkins close by because forks are abandoned rapid- ly when enjoying this dish. Like good tender ribs, this quickly becomes food you eat with your fingers. Squirrel cooked this way is, basically, delicate white meat. Pair with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Virginia or New Zealand or a nice lager or light ale. □ The Department's "Squirrel Skinning, Quick and Easy" DVD can help anyone ensure squirrels in the hunt bag are quickly and cleanly transformed into meat ready for cooking. Retired Conservation Police Officer John Berry, a man who can clean a squirrel as fast as you can read this paragraph, offers expert instruction. The DVD, which also contains "Panfish Preparation and Fillet- ing," is available for $8 from the information desk at the Richmond Headquarters Office at 4010 West Broad Street in Richmond. Copies can be mail or- dered by sending a check or money order for $8 made payable to: "Treasurer of Virginia" and mailed to: Vir- ginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, At- tention Squirrel DVD, P.O. Box 11104, Richmond, Vir- ginia 23230. JANUARY 2010 33 by Lynda Richardson If Your Images Aren't Sharp i\ ne of the most common com- \/ plaints I hear from students during my photography workshops is, "Sometimes my images just aren't sharp!" When I explore the problem with them, it seems to come down to one thing: They are using shutter speeds too slow when hand-holding their cameras. Using a tripod would instantly solve this problem, of course, but many prefer to hold their cameras be- cause it allows for the most spontane- ity. So, I first look at how they are holding their cameras; sometimes this can be the source of the problem. For the greatest stability when hand- holding, I suggest placing the left hand under the camera body, or if you have a long lens, under the lens and the body where it balances per- fectly if held in one hand. The right hand should be gripping the other side of the camera, thumb on the back with your index finger on the shutter. With elbows tucked into your ribs and holding your breath, you be- come a stable platform for shooting. The next thing to understand is how shutter speeds can help you with sharpness. Many folks these days tend to use the automatic or program setting on their cameras and don't even know what their shutter speeds are! I recommend using the manual, or shutter priority settings, however, so that you will al- ways know your shutter speed. So why would this help? A 'rule of thumb' when hand-holding your camera is to avoid shooting a shutter speed slower than the focal length of your lens. For example, if you are using a 300mm lens you should se- lect at least a 1 /300th shutter speed, and when using a 24mm lens it should be at least 1 /30th. Depending on how steady you are, you could probably go a little slower — but not much. And if you need to shoot slow- er than 1 /30th, I would use a tripod. Holding you camera properly can be the first step to sharper photographs. Some lens manufacturers offer stabilizing features called Image Sta- bilization (IS, for Canon) or Vibration Reduction (VR, for Nikon). When turned on, this feature minimizes camera movement and allows you to ammatfiM use a slower shutter speed than the normal rule described here. This sta- bilization feature can allow you to shoot up to two shutter speeds slow- er than suggested here, but don't count on it to work in all situations. The next time you have problems with photographs that aren't sharp, investigate how you are holding the camera and whether the shutter speeds you are using are too slow. When all else fails, use a tripod! □ You are invited to submit one to five of your best photographs to "Image of the Month," Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. Send original slides, super high- quality prints, or high-res jpeg, tiff, or raw files on a disk and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope or other shipping method for return. Also, please include any pertinent information regarding how and where you captured the image and what camera and set- tings you used, along with your phone num- ber. We look forward to seeing and sharing your work with our readers. Congratulations go to Alan Wingfield of Richmond for his wonderful action shot of a mature bald eagle gathering nesting material at Point of Rocks Park in Chesterfield. Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, Canon 70-300mm IS zoom lens, ISO 400, 1/ 2000th, f 6. 3. Good job, Alan! 34 VIRGINIA WILDLIFE ♦ www.HuntFishVA.com r*^?^- W p .r^T^ / pic 2009 Limited Edition Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife Our 2009 Collector's knife has once again been customized by Buck Knives and features a wild turkey in full strut. The elegant, solid cherry box features a forest scene. Knives and boxes, made in USA. ltem#VW-409 b.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 2008 Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife Produced by Buck Knives, this knife features a red-tailed hawk engraving, augmented by a natural woodgrain handle and gold lettering. A distinctive, solid cherry box features birds of prey. Item # VVV-408 $90.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) Fawn and Turtles Plush Collectibles From mountains to the coast, our plush collectibles will remind you of your favorite Virginia habitat. (Sizes range from 5" to 9" long) ltem#VW-519 ltem#VW-518 White-tailed Fawn Sea Turtle Set (2) $9.95 each $9.95 each Habitat at Home Check out this 2009 DVD that features several types of home habitat gardens and interviews with the homeowners who created them. Item #VW-254 $12.00 each To Order visit the Department's Web site at: www.HuntFishVA.com or call (804) 367-2569. Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program Nongame Tax Checkoff Fund Celebrate the 28th anniversary of Virginia's Nongame Wildlife Program by helping to support essential research and management of Virginia's native birds, fish, and other nongame animals. If you are due a tax refund from the Commonwealth of Virginia, you can contribute to the Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program by simply marking the appropriate place on this year's tax checkoff, on the Virginia state income tax form. If you would like to make a cash do- nation directly to the Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program using a VISA or Mas- terCard, you can visit the Department's Web site or mail a check made out to Virginia Nongame Program and mail it to Virginia Nongame Program, 4010 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23230-1104. Magazine subscription-related calls only 1-800-710-9369 Twelve issues for just $ 1 2.95! All other calls to (804) 367- 1 000 Visit our Web site at www.HuntFishVA.com The Q ■i& y t Will Be Enjoyed All Year Long Virginia Wildlife Magazine For a limited time only you can give Virginia Wildlife as a gift to your family and friends for only $ 1 0.00 each. Thats a savings of almost 80% off the regular cover price! This special holiday offer expires January 3 1 , 20 1 0. Simply send us the full name and address of the person or persons to whom you would like to send a subscription. All orders must mention code # U9C4 and be prepaid by check, payable to Treasurer of Virginia. Mail to Virginia Wildlife Magazine, PO. Box 1 1 1 04, Richmond, VA 23230- 1 1 04. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. Remember, a subscription to Virginia Wildlife makes a great gift that will be enjoyed all year long!